Winston-Salem man fighting West Nile Virus

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Don Adkins says he is fighting West Nile Virus and making improvements thanks to his faith and doctor’s at Forsyth Medical Center. 

“My mind is getting better, still not what it should be functioning like, but it’s getting better,” said Adkins.

When he was first admitted to the hospital a month ago, Adkins couldn’t walk or talk. However, today, he is able to speak and walk again, but slowly. 

“Whenever my eyes open in the morning I look up and say thank you Lord for another day,” said Adkins.

The 61-year-old father, and grandfather, is believed to have contracted the virus from a mosquito bite in early August. He believe's it happened sitting on the front porch of his home in Winston-Salem.   

“It was about four or five days before I remembered anything. I was just out of it … just lost time,” said Adkins.

Adkins still has days when he doesn’t want to eat and just sleeps, which doctor's say is one of the effects of the virus that causes inflammation around your brain and can damage your nervous system.  It is a virus that doctors have no specific resources to fight.

“In all likelihood the inflammation is improving,” said Dr. David Priest, an infectious disease specialist who has been treating Adkins at Forsyth Medical Center.  

“The damage to his nerves has been done and how much healing and recovery he'll get from that remains to be seen,” said Priest.

At first doctors thought Adkins had meningitis, but when he didn’t respond to treatments, they tested for West Nile.

The diagnosis comes at a tough time for Adkins who has struggled to find work. He was recently laid off from a 32-year career at Douglas Battery. Due to his age, Adkins is unable to afford health insurance. 

Friends and family describe Adkins as a survivor who doesn’t give up. 

“I'm not going to give up, I’m going to keep on fighting,” said Adkins.